I didn’t want to have children.
As the only child growing up in China, I was often told how burdensome I was by my mom, especially when she’s angry at me about something. I’m sure she had her point. An ambitious career woman as she was, to have me must’ve brought her much inconvenience in pursuing her perceived success in life. She loved me as a young child, of course. But I doubt that she had a strong reason to have me in the first place, other than it’s something other women in their late twenties did. In her generation as well as mine, we were taught at school that humans came from monkeys. Evolution was not an unproved theory but a fact. What’s the value for humans? Well, their worth is measured by how much they can produce for society. Since children are needy and can’t produce anything, they are of little value. My mom surely didn’t know the scripture that says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”
So I grew up with this notion that children were troublesome and burdensome, which got confirmed by observing them in the restaurant, shopping mall, or any other public places. They are often noisy and hyperactive. The parents usually look like they haven’t slept for weeks. Why would people want to have children? It’s such an exhausting job with no paying back.
I didn’t want to have children, for I couldn’t see beyond the fatigue and loads of work they brought to the parents. I couldn’t grasp the meaning of sacrificing raising them. I was more concerned about what I could gain in life.
Then I met some brown and blond-haired ladies coming from across the ocean, straight to the orphanages of my city. I went with them several times to help translate. They took the underdeveloped, disabled babies into their arms to cuddle, and played with the young children with cerebral palsy. There were so many unwanted little ones in the orphanage with just a few workers and caregivers. Many of them were left untouched. I saw this particular toddler with mild cerebral palsy, sitting in a corner on a playground floor, continually banging his head against the wall. I was told that when they couldn’t receive enough physical contact from the caregivers, they did that to stimulate themselves to feel alive.
My friends eventually took some of the disabled orphans home to foster until they found someone to adopt them permanently. They kept doing that for years. Many orphans were able to find a new home through their work.
After ten years working with the orphans, one of the single ladies with beautiful blond hair and big blue eyes adopted a girl with severe cerebral palsy herself and became a mom this way. Everything about her and what she did was completely the opposite of what I’d learned and believed. It seemed that I lived in Venus while she resided in Mars, and I was thinking in Greek while she spoke Chinese. I thought even a healthy cute baby would tired out the parents; therefore, it’s not worth having them. But she took in a girl from a foreign country, who would most likely never be able to walk or speak normally, and committed to exhausting herself to love and take care of her for the rest of her life, for free.
It’s mind-blowing for someone like me.
In my evolutionary mindset, I asked her, “What’s there for those disabled? They couldn’t contribute a thing to society. They just add burden to the people around them.”
She said to me, “Their disability doesn’t define their worth. They are made in the image of God. Therefore they are valuable and worthy of love and care.”
I asked again, “What’s the point of bringing the orphans home to take care of them since one day they will leave you and be adopted somewhere else? You can’t keep them anyway.”
She said, “The love any baby experienced will never go away. It will impact the rest of their life. It’s surely worth it even if I only get to live with them for a while.”
People like her changed me. Their voice spoken mainly in their actions became louder in my head than the words I heard from my mom or the teachings from school. Every child, disabled or healthy, is made in the image of God. They are worthy of love. I once was a child too. So was my mom.
Somewhere along the way, I changed my mind. I wanted to have children, and now I’m blessed to be a mom of two. In a parent’s life, there are days harder than others. I may force myself to get up in the early morning with a foggy head to breastfeed my baby yet one more time, thinking when will days like these ever end. These are the hardship of a parent I once dreaded. But I finally could see the things I wasn’t able to see before—- the meaning of sacrificing. The sacrifice of doing good works, whether it’s giving birth, nursing a baby, staying up late for a toddler, or caring for the orphans, isn’t just to meet the certain social or moral standard, nor to be a nice person, but the way to a fuller life. It’s the gateway for God’s grace to enter in, not only enabling us to do the work but also refining us for eternal glory.